Armagh Gaels are gearing up for a jam-packed fortnight of events for the annual Irish language Seachtain na Gaeilge festival. The international festival, which this year is spearheaded by four ambassadors namely Irish language activist on the Newtownards Road in Belfast, Linda Ervine; All-Ireland football medallist with Dublin, Michael Daragh Macauley; RTÉ 2FM DJ, Tracy Clifford; and reknowned Irish language singer, Sibéal Ní Chasaide. The Armagh programme, which will cater for all age groups, is being coordinated by city-based Irish language community group CAIRDE Teo, with financial assistance from Foras na Gaeilge, Seachtain na Gaeilge and ABC Council.
Amongst the festival highlights will be the launch of a new Irish language storyboard at the site of the Aonach Mhacha cultural centre. As building work continues at pace before the opening in Autumn 2019, the storyboard will feature a number of both local and prominent proponents of the Irish language and bilingualism, as well as a timeline of the history of the Irish language in Armagh from 2000 BC to the present day. Dr Antaine Ó Donnaile, who has worked hard to pull together all of the information, will deliver a talk on Wednesday 13 March at 19.00 in Coláiste Chaitríona to outline the story of the Irish language in Armagh. The festival will also feature a Seachtain na Gaeilge party for local Irish speaking families at 18.15 on Friday 8 March at Cathedral Road Recreation Centre, with plenty of entertainment for parents and kids alike.
On Saturday 9 March, Cairde Teo are yet again joining up with Armagh GAA to offer a range of intensive Irish language courses to learners of all levels. The classes will be held in the Athletic Grounds from 10.30 to 15.30 and will cover beginners, intermediate and advanced levels. Similar courses have proven immensely popular with learners from throughout Armagh and across Ulster in attendance, including a number of Armagh GAA football, hurling and handball stars. As 2019 is an historic and defining year for the Irish language in Armagh, as we await the opening of the new Aonach Mhacha language, culture and arts centre, the local population are being invited to come and learn or brush up on their language skills.
For more information or to book a place in one of the intensive courses, contact Seán on email@example.com or 028 3751 5229. There will also be special events for the Cairde Teo Irish language classes at St Catherine’s College, as well as the two youth clubs, to recognise and celebrate Seachtain na Gaeilge.
Linda Ervine will be in Armagh to deliver a fascinating insight into ‘Protestants and the Irish language’ and discuss her journey in learning Irish as an east Belfast loyalist. This enlightening talk will take place at the Robinson Library at 18.00 on Thursday 14 March. Armagh GAA will also host a pop-up Gaeltacht at the Athletic Grounds for the football double header featuring Armagh v Clare in the LGFA Division 2 and Armagh v Fermanagh in the NFL Division 2. Patrons will be invited to use whatever Irish they may have and pick up information on Irish language events and initiatives right across the county. The festival concludes on St Patrick’s Day with the Irish language youth club, Cumann Óige Ard Mhacha, taking part in the afternoon community parade, before the annual St Patrick’s Day Irish language mass at 17.30 in St Patrick’s Cathedral.